Parker was born in 1953 in Los Angeles, California, and he has lived his entire life in Southern California. He was educated in public schools and received his bachelor's degree from the University of California, Irvine in English. He began his writing career as a journalist for The Newport Ensign. Parker later switched jobs to the Daily Pilot, winning three Orange County Press Club Awards. It was at this time that he began writing his first novel, Laguna Heat. Barnes & Noble.com - T. Jefferson Parker - Books: Meet the Writers He received the Edgar Award for Best Novel in 2002 for "Silent Joe" and in 2005 for "California Girl."
Parker's stories usually have one protagonist, and occasionally part of the story will be shown from the antagonist's point of view. His stories usually build suspense as the protagonist tries to prevent further crimes. The crimes depicted in the story are usually gruesome acts, which cause much unrest in the town where the story is set. Parker is renowned for use of California settings and depicting the effects of crime on a community. He draws on his experience as a lifelong California resident. Although most of his work is set in Orange County, he has relocated to San Diego and some of his more recent writing is set there.